The Mansion is tucked away within the vast MGM Grand Hotel. It is a little haven away from the noise of the slot machines, but prices are geared to extracting cash from diners just as efficiently. The room is grand and fancily decorated, with elaborate flower displays and thick carpet.
Bread appears on a vast trolley: you can choose from rosemary, gruyere brioche, rustic baguette, bacon bread, rosemary brioche, olive roll, Comte roll, petit pain, basil bread,… Rather oddly, the first selection only that you make is taken away and warmed up, but further top ups are served cold. The breads themselves are generally very good (strong 18/20) though not as good as the very finest selections that you can get in certain places in France (e.g. Veyrat, Louis XV). There are two tasting menus available at $385 and $500 per person. The Kobe beef alone costs $215, a King Crab Royale $125, to give some indication of price.
The wine list stretches to 34 pages, very firmly at the luxurious end of the market. Examples include Ridge Montebello 2002 at $375 for a wine that costs about $100 retail, Jermann Vintage Tunina 2005 $165 for a wine costing about $40, and Kistler Vine Hill 2005 at $325 for a wine that you can buy for about $130. Incredibly, when I asked the sommelier for a “good value” suggestion, he suggested the Kistler, at a mere $325. I guess by the standards of this list, it is good value.
Artichoke veloute with white truffles had good flavour intensity, and a generous helping of truffles (17/20). An ice sphere of coriander with beetroot gazpacho was pretty and had excellent beetroot gazpacho, bursting with flavour. However the ice sphere of coriander tasted hardly at all of coriander, so it essentially acted as just a large lump of ice in the gazpacho (16/20).
Potato salad with white truffle and foie gras was, for me, the best dish of the night. The potato had excellent flavour and went really well with the truffles and foie gras, which was served with slivers of radish and baby lettuce (19/20). Veloute of lettuce with sweet onion foam had a few cubes of ham to add an extra smoky taste, and had quite distinct flavour, but here is perhaps a limit to how exciting this dish could ever be (17/20).
Oven roasted turbot with celery and celeriac was disappointing, the fish tasting bland, and even the celeriac (a strong flavour) not really lifting the dish. An issue here is that the turbot is so far from its home in Brittany, and so is frozen; inevitably some flavour is lost. Our waiter mentioned that some restaurants in Las Vegas go to the trouble of importing their fish fresh from as far as France, but that they did not do that here since it was “really expensive”. Hmm – just what does he think the menu prices here are?
Kobe beef was, very unusually in America, supposedly true Kobe beef imported from Japan and not some waygu beef look-alike bred in the US or Australia. The beef was very good indeed; its marbling of fat creating the buttey smoothness that Kobe beef is famous for. This was served with a single cep (which actually was a little dried out) and a good aubergine puree, as well as an aubergine crisp (17/20).
At this point my wife had sea bass with five spice and a red wine sauce, and again the fish suffered from not having very good flavour; the freezing process made what was undoubtedly a fine piece of bass originally taste very ordinary; it also seemed a little overcooked (15/20).
Dessert was grapefruit with caramel sauce, and a jelly of rosé champagne. There was also a financier of raspberries with brown butter: all very pleasant but for me only 16/20 level. There was an impressive trolley of petit fours with a wide selection of treats. Examples were a palet d’or, opera, macaroons, etc – these were very fine (19/20). The bill was $835 for two, with one of the cheaper wines on the list. Overall the food certainly had high points, such as the potato salad and the beef, but also worrying lapses, such as the sea bass. This is inexcusable at this price.